Pressure mounts on Buhari to sign Electoral bill into law | NN NEWS

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PDP senators, Reps, Ohanaeze, TMG, Middle Belt, Hanga call for timely assent

Intense pressure is mounting on President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly sign the re-amended 2010 Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2022 into law. 

Last year, the president had refused to assent to the bill. He returned it to the National Assembly. 

On Monday, President Buhari received the authenticated copies of the re-jigged Bill. 

According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President of National Assembly Affairs (Senate), Senator Babajide Omoworare, the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mr. Olatunde Amos Ojo, transmitted the authenticated copies. 

The National Assembly caucus of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, called on President Buhari to immediately sign the bill into law. 

The push was made by the caucus during its meeting with members of Board of Trustees (BOT) of the party at the Senate wing of the National Assembly. 

Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe who spoke on behalf of others, said having bent backwards as requested by President Buhari on the earlier rejected draft, the bill should be signed without any delay. 

Following President Buhari’s complaint over the restriction of political party to the direct primary mode of selecting candidates, the National Assembly inserted indirect and consensus mode of primary elections in the new one. 

“Now that we have bent backwards, no excuse or reason should be given again. Provisions of the bill are very critical for expected credibility of the 2023 general elections.” 

Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu, alleged that governors on the platform of APC were lobbying the President not to sign the Bill. 

This, according to him, would be resisted by the PDP and forward-looking Nigerians because of other important provisions in the bill like section 52 which deals with electronic transmission of election results. 

“The plan of using mandatory direct primaries to scuttle the bill has failed because the National Assembly has widened the scope as requested by the president. 

“No any other unresolved issues or observations is left in the bill transmitted to the President on Monday. No more excuses, no more delay, it should be signed in the interest of credibility and sanctity of electoral process in the country,” he said. 

Also reacting, national publicity secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia regretted that the amended Electoral Bill has been watered down and urged the president to immediately sign it to give the 2023 general elections credibility. 

“The earlier the bill is signed, the better for our democracy. This is so that people will know where we are going. Delaying signing it will affect the integrity of the general elections.” 

For the Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Chairman, Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, Buhari should assent to the bill to demonstrate his sincerity in the fight against corruption, particularly electoral corruption. 

He noted that delaying assent would continue to cast doubt on the integrity of the country’s polls and encourage those who want to rig. 

Former president of Aka Ikenga, Goddy Uwazurike, warned that time was running out and noted that everything must be done to avoid a repeat of the past experience where President Buhari refused to pass an amended electoral bill because it was too close to the general election. 

“Time waits for nobody. A president or governor oftentimes believe that he has the luxury of time. A conscious politician understands that time flies like a shadow. The president has the time and space to sign the bill into law. There are many people, who for selfish reasons, do not want President Buhari to sign the bill into law.” 

In a separate interview, President of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Dr. Bitrus Pogu, expressed optimism that Buhari would assent to the bill, having committed himself to do so. 

He noted that the National Assembly has included the two primary options, the indirect and consensus methods. 

“There will not be an excuse for him now not to assent to the amended bill,” he said. 

Similarly, chieftain of the APC and former member of the Senate, Rufai Hanga, said the president has no reason to withhold assent to the bill. However, he warned Nigerians to hold their breath as the president may decide to withhold assent as he did before. 

“I have my reservations because this is not the first time he will refuse to assent to the bill. He promised that he will leave a legacy of electoral reforms and free and fair election. He rejected only direct primaries before even though that issue has been resolved. However, I have my reservations but we should wait and see even though I’m not sure he will sign it unless it complies with what he wants,” he said. (The Sun)

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